WINSLOW — Organizers of the annual Fourth of July blowout say it’s on track to be one of the biggest and brightest in the event’s 25-year history, and they want to dispel rumors the event has been canceled or moved.

Members of the Winslow Family 4th of July Celebration’s operations committee say recent news that organizers are considering moving the festival to another town have prompted confusion about whether the festival was going forward this year.

Kevin Douglass, chairman of the volunteer committee, said he has gotten many phone calls from people who are concerned that the fireworks might have been canceled.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the reality is the exact opposite, Douglass said. Four full days of live music, food and games are scheduled to be held at Fort Halifax Park on Main Street, starting Wednesday, July 1.

The group named its parade grand marshal Tuesday, 92-year-old World War II veteran George Prentiss.

Douglass said this year’s parade will be the biggest in the event’s history, and the fireworks display will surpass anything the group has done before, Douglass said.

“We’re having the largest fireworks show we’ve ever had to celebrate the 25th anniversary,” Douglass said.

Even though the event has called Winslow its home for the past quarter-century, it is put on by a private organization and doesn’t have a formal connection to the town. An estimated 70,000 people attend the event every year.

Festival organizers said last week that they were going to discuss the possibility of moving the event, possibly to Fairfield, after getting the impression that Winslow was getting tired of hosting the event.

On Tuesday, Douglass said the Winslow Family 4th of July Committee still is considering whether to move to another town after this year, but it hasn’t made any decisions.

Wherever they are, the committee is dedicated to giving central Maine the best Fourth of July celebration it can, Douglass said.

“It will happen wherever we go,” he said. “We refuse to give up on this great event.”

He said that “everybody thinks the town of Winslow puts on the event.”

“I think what a lot of people don’t understand is that we are a nonprofit group that puts this on every year, and we do that with the support of local business,” he said. “We work tirelessly all year to make sure we have enough money to put this on.”

The organization still is looking for volunteers to help with this year’s festival, he added.

The Winslow Family 4th of July Committee, a registered nonprofit, puts on the event. The town offers a donation of some emergency services, but the committee has to pay for most of its police and fire coverage. It can cost $50,000 to $60,000 to put on the event, he estimated.

The festival starts every day with live music at noon, featuring local and national country and rock ‘n’ roll acts.

This year’s music highlights include Draw the Line, an Aerosmith tribute band playing the evening of July 1; a tribute to the band Boston, with former members of the band, the night of July 2; and a street dance on Friday, July 3.

The Fourth of July will start at 10 a.m. with the parade and finish off with a fireworks celebration over the Kennebec River starting at 9:30 p.m. A full schedule of events is on the festival’s website, www.winslow4th.com.

The honor of being grand marshal at this year’s celebration has been given to Prentiss, a World War II veteran from Fairfield.

Reached at his Norridgewock Road home on Tuesday, Prentiss, 92, said he was surprised when he learned that he had been selected as the grand marshal for the massive celebration.

“I think it’s because I’m the last World War II veteran that’s still active in the VFW” in Winslow, Prentiss said.

Originally from New Jersey, Prentiss enlisted in the Navy and served from 1943 to 1946. He was aboard a 136-foot-long wooden mine sweeper in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

Prentiss moved to the area from New Jersey in 1972, built a house in Belgrade Lakes with his wife and two sons and later moved to Clinton and Winslow. He worked at the Wyandotte woolen mill on West River Road until it closed, then briefly worked for the Winslow School Department.

Although he has been a past commander of the Winslow VFW, he said being the grand marshal will be a new experience.

“I’ve never done anything like it before,” Prentiss said.

Organizers were looking for a deserving veteran from the area, and Prentiss’ name kept coming up as a pillar of the community and all-around great guy, Douglass said.

“We thought he would be a perfect fit,” he said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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